Why North Korea is not a horn of prophecy (Dan 8:8)

  

North Korea says nukes defensive in nature
Published: 2015-05-24 11:38

North Korea defended its possession of nuclear weapons Sunday, saying it is “a means to protect peace and security in the region, not an object of contention.”

Earlier this week, Pyongyang claimed it has developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit on a missile, further escalating tensions with Seoul.

“The North’s nuclear weapons can never be an object of accusations as it is a means to protect the dignity and sovereignty of the nation,” an unnamed spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea was quoted as saying by the North’s state media.

“South Korea should at least recognize that the treasured nuclear sword of North Korea can never be dismantled.”

The statement came after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hinted at the possible deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which can shoot down ballistic missiles at a higher altitude, in South Korea.

The nuclear deterrence of the DPRK has not posed any threat to anybody but has performed the most just and responsible mission to check the U.S. wild ambition for hegemony on the forefront and preserve regional peace and stability,” the spokesman was also quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency.

DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The spokesman warned South Korea to “stop acting recklessly” and vowed “catastrophic consequences” should it continue to take issue with the North’s nuclear weapons.
The two Koreas are technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap)

The Failed Iraqi National Guard (Rev 13:18)

 
The Foreign Policy Essay: Harnessing Militia Power—Lessons of the Iraqi National Guard

Ariel I. Ahram and Frederic Wehrey
May 24, 2015

Editor’s Note: National governments seem to be failing throughout the Middle East. The United States, unfortunately, does not usually have the luxury of waiting until a strong government returns, and building a strong state is often beyond what the United States is able or willing to do. One option to fight terrorists and otherwise fill the governance void is to work more with local militias. Ariel I. Ahram of Virginia Tech and Frederic Wehrey of Carnegie draw on the U.S. experience in Iraq and offer lessons for what to do—and what to avoid—when going down this road.

***

Faced with the breakdown of national armies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, Arab states have increasingly turned toward alliances with armed militias to ensure security. Popular, anti-government protests and insurgencies for the most part precipitated the breakdown of regime military institutions, yet pre-existing internal ethnic, clan, and ideological cleavages helped to hasten the breakdown. The beleaguered state security forces have now entered into a variety of alliances—tacit or active—with militias they deem sympathetic to their interests, often organized on the basis of entrenched ethno-sectarian or tribal identities. Such militia forces supplement and at times even stand in for the weak or absent army and police as providers of local security.

On the one hand, militia forces have in certain circumstances proven effective at counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. On the other hand, they have also committed atrocities against civilians that hamper long-term efforts to build trust and stability. Their greatest risk is that, by eroding the central government’s monopolization on force, they jeopardize the territorial cohesion of the state.

In Iraq, the rise of powerful communal militias has paralleled the growth of the threat from the Islamic State. This has presented the United States with a quandary: how to combat the Islamic State by mobilizing local Sunnis while at the same time safeguarding the broader integrity of the Iraqi state and its security institutions. The national guard concept, which successive Iraqi governments have tried in the past, was seen as one way to do this. A national guard force would retain the militias’ local knowledge and roots, both unique tools necessary for a successful counterinsurgency against the Islamic State. At the same time, the guard would (at least in theory) be subject to increased oversight and control by the central government.

Other fractured Arab states, most notably Libya, have tried to implement a national guard model as a way to harness militia power, but this too has failed. Variations of hybrid, provincially-organized military forces exist in Yemen and Syria. While each case is different, the failure of national guards bears certain similarities. Examining the Iraqi case in particular can highlight the potential utility of national guards but also the parallel political and institutional reforms that are necessary to make the concept work.

False Analogies and False Starts in Iraq

The idea of creating a national guard in Iraq has been a centerpiece of U.S. engagement since the dramatic advance of the Islamic State on Tikrit and Mosul in 2014. President Obama specifically mentioned U.S. support for a national guard as a means to help Iraqi Sunnis “secure their own freedom” from the Islamic State. Much of U.S. thinking about the Iraqi National Guard (ING) was guided by the example of the Sunni Awakening of 2006 and 2007, when the United States actively recruited and “flipped” Sunni tribes that had supported the al-Qaeda-inspired insurgency. In return for guarantees of autonomy and military, financial, and political backing, the Sunni tribes were able to turn the tables on the insurgent fighters and impose a measure of peace and stability. The 2014 initiative essentially sought to reproduce this arrangement. The idea was that given proper incentives, the Sunni tribes would again fight the radical Islamists who threatened their supremacy. Over the long term, such national guard forces could be integrated formally as auxiliary troops in a federal structure, comparable in many ways to the U.S. National Guard.

Yet the Awakening analogy failed on a number of levels. The Shi’i-dominated Iraqi central government had never been enthusiastic about empowering Sunni tribes in the first place. With the dismantling of the Iraqi army in 2003, security had effectively devolved to party, tribal, and sectarian militias. Many Iraqis wondered why the United States would seek to create new militias, especially ones recently tied to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. As Iraq scholar Adeed Dawisha described, the gains in security came “not because of the state, but in spite of it.”

As the U.S. began withdrawing from Iraq in 2009 and 2010, then-Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki quickly moved to dismantle the Awakening-associated militias. Only a handful of former militia fighters received their promised positions in the police, army, or civil services. Some former militia leaders were arrested on seemingly politically-motivated charges of terrorism or subversion. Efforts to enact a Sunni-dominated super-region comparable to the federal status of the Kurdish Regional Government in the north were rebuffed, despite the provisions of Iraq’s constitution that allowed for the creation of such an entity. Politically marginalized, some Sunnis returned to their alliance with the radical mujahideen.

The election of the new prime minister Haydar al-Abadi in 2014 raised the promise of renewed Sunni-Shi’i reconciliation. Abadi expressed support for the national guard initiative and forwarded a bill to parliament in 2014. Thousands of volunteers came forward from the Sunni tribes in the west and U.S. and Iraqi officials met with tribal leaders to help solidify support. The United States began to enlist support from Iraq’s Sunni neighbors to provide training and support for the ING.

Yet resistance within Abadi’s own political coalition stymied these efforts. The National Guard bill foundered in parliamentary committee, with open questions about the extent of control vested in provincial governors and the chain of command subordinating the ING to the ministries of interior, defense, or the prime minister himself. Officers of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) regarded the militias as unfit for duty and as rivals for budget and resources. Iraq’s constitution specifically prohibited the formation of militias outside the framework of the armed forces (with an exception of the peshmerga forces of the Kurdish Regional Government). Moreover, there was concern that once the Sunnis were authorized to organize a militia, other ethno-sectarian communities, such as Christians or Turkomen, might try to follow suit out of fear of falling under the mercy of their more powerful neighbors. The ING, then, could undercut any pretense of the Iraqi state possessing a monopoly over the use of force.

At base, though, many of Iraq’s Shi’i leaders simply believed that they didn’t need Sunni support. With the ING initiative stalled in parliament, the Shi’i factions have actively cultivated Shi’i militias as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi). The origins of the PMF can be traced to a statement by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq’s senior Shi’i cleric, which explicitly called on the faithful to take up arms to defend Iraq in the face of the Islamic State onslaught in 2014. Muqtada al-Sadr’s Jaysh al-Mahdi, the Badr Organization, and other political factions quickly took the opportunity to reconstitute or expand their private armies.

Backed by Iran’s expeditionary al-Qods Force, PMF militias played a prominent role in the spring 2015 offensive against the Islamic State in Tikrit. By spring 2015, PMF counted around 60,000 men under arms. Still, the performance of these militias has been less than stellar. In the spring 2015 offensive on Tikrit, PMF forces failed repeatedly to dislodge Islamic State resistance, despite enjoying superiority in numbers. U.S. air support proved critical to allowing the offensive to proceed. Some PMF units quit the fight instead of working under American air cover. Others were involved in a campaign of terror against Sunnis, looting, kidnapping, and killing those suspected of collaborating with the Islamic State.

Awakening Again?

The prospects for the mobilization of Iraq’s Sunnis are not dead—yet. A handful of Sunni tribes joined the PMF during the Tikrit offensive. In Anbar, likely the next front in the campaign against the Islamic State, U.S. and Iraqi officials have cultivated ties with local Sunni tribes and organized some 8,000 men into Sunni PMF units. Some tribes have made their service conditional on guarantees of greater autonomy and the removal of Shi’i militia forces. Yet the intake for training programs remains slow and drop-out rates high. On the one hand, tribes continue to resent the central government. On the other hand, they fear retribution should the Islamic State return.

Abadi’s visit to Washington in April 2015 focused on expanding and enhancing security cooperation with the United States. The United States has insisted that the PMF be brought more fully under the control of the Iraqi Security Forces and that PMF units reflect the demographics of the provinces and districts in which they operate. This would mean that in ethnically-mixed areas, such as in Nineveh or Babil, each ethnic group would have its own militia proportional to its size in the locality. The Iraq Train and Equip Program (ITEP) is slowly coming online, funneling American money and weapons to various local militia forces as well as ISF.

Cooperating with the United States has been a delicate balancing act for Abadi. While Kurdish and Sunni leaders see U.S. military support as a means to their own ends, Abadi’s own Shi’i political camp—as well as his allies in Tehran—are far more wary. When the U.S. Congress passed a bill in May 2015 effectively mandating the Defense Department to bypass Baghdad and provide support for Sunni and Kurdish fighters directly, Abadi protested that this constituted a grave violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

Still, reliance on the ragtag PMF alone is not sustainable in the long term. Operating far from home and with limited training, these overwhelmingly Shi’i forces cannot be expected to become an army of occupation in Sunni areas like Tikrit or Fallujah. Ultimately, local partners will be necessary to build and maintain peace and stability. The national guard, then, may well re-emerge as a more sustainable structure for administrative and security devolution.

Lessons Learned From Failure

While analysts and policymakers naturally focus on cases of success, there are important lessons to be learned from Iraq’s failures. For countries like Iraq where central armies have more or less broken down and a bevy of militias has emerged in its stead, as in Libya, Yemen, and Syria, the national guard could represent a path to reconstituting fragile state authority.

But for this to happen, several broad principles need to be heeded:

National guards cannot simply be conceived as short-term, improvised solutions to immediate security crises. Rather, the creation of national guards is part of the impetus of security-sector reform (SSR) and post-conflict demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration (DDR) of armed groups.

National guards must overcome the legacies of past authoritarian experiences where pro-government militias were often seen as mere thugs for the regime, not a disciplined professional fighting force. In particular, the older officer class of regular forces may see them as competitors. To build trust among the population and other military institutions, national guards should be accompanied by revisions to chain of command establishing clear relationships of authority between the guards, the police, the army, and other security agencies, and subordinating all security services to civilian authorities.
National guard initiatives must also be accompanied by moves toward political power-sharing arrangements. The success of national guards ultimately depends not just on their short-term tactical effectiveness but on the degree of local buy-in. Constitutions can provide a structure for bolstering confidence between a central government and subnational militia forces. Since militia membership and cohesion is often based on geographic linkages—to town, municipality or province—national guards may well be a part of federalist power devolution, especially in countries with overlapping ethno-sectarian and regional cleavages.

Western governments can assist in setting up and training national guards, but they must ensure that proper political and institutional reforms are also undertaken. In many cases, Western states provide models for how decentralized, federally-organized military forces can complement national armies and local police. The United States, for instance, has a great deal of experience with its own federalized national guard structure and can draw on this example in its train-and-equip programs. There are other potentially useful models as well, including the British Territorial Army, a part-time, volunteer force that was integrated into the British Army in the early twentieth century; the Danish Home Guard, which incorporated anti-Nazi resistance militias into a national command structure after World War II; or the Italian Carabineri, which is often discussed as a potential model for dealing with Libya’s unique security challenges.

Outside assistance to national guards must avoid exacerbating existing communal and political fault lines. Helping peripheral and minority groups set up their own armed forces can, on one hand, embolden these groups to resist the central government and, on the other hand, spur resentment from the central government and fear of future disloyalty or rebellion. These concerns become even more acute when national guards are seen as proxies for outside powers. With this in mind, the U.S. and outside powers should calibrate their assistance to both regionally-based national guards and central government forces to ensure rough parity between the two. This could entail making funding, equipment and training for the central security services contingent on a proportional commitment to strengthen the guards.

National guards are political institutions, not just military instruments. They can have far-ranging consequences for political stability and cohesion. While no panacea for the challenge of building effective states, they can play an important role in addressing security concerns and moving toward more meaningful power sharing.

The Abomination Of Desolation (Dan 9:27)

 

ISIS to smuggle its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan, mulls attack on US: Report

The Economic Times

There is an “infinitely” greater chance of IS smuggling its first nuclear weapon from Pak to attack the US, as per the dreaded group’s propaganda magazine.

LONDON: There is an “infinitely” greater chance of the cash-rich Islamic State smuggling its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan to attack the US within a year, according to the latest edition of the dreaded group’s propaganda magazine.

In what seems to be an exaggerated article in the IS’ new edition of Dabiq, its English-language online magazine, attributed to British journalist John Cantlie, the outfit has suggested a unification of militant Islamist groups across the Middle East, Africa and Asia to create one global movement.

The terror group that has executed a number of Westerners in the past months said it can use the “billions of dollars” in its coffers to purchase its first nuclear acquisition within a year.

It has used photojournalist Cantlie – held hostage for over two years by the terror group also acronymed as ISIS or ISIL – regularly in its propaganda.

The article titled ‘The Perfect Storm’ reads: “The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilayah (chapter) in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region.”

It raises a “hypothetical” possibility under which ISIS operatives in Pakistan bribe an official to provide them with a nuclear device which is then smuggled into America via Libya, Nigeria and Mexico, The Telegraph reported.

The article presumed to be written under pressure but in his hallmark style combining hyperbole, metaphor and sarcasm, Cantlie says that US President Barack Obama’s policies for containing the group have demonstrably failed and increased the risk to America.

It comes at a time when the Islamic State group fighters have gained grounds in Syria and Iraq, storming the museum in the ancient city of Palmyra and capturing Ramadi, capital of Iraq’s largest province.

The loss of Ramadi has been termed as a “tactical setback” by Obama, who has insisted that the US-led coalition’s campaign againt the terror outfit is “not losing”.

Cantlie says it is no secret that the ISIS is planning to attack America on a large-scale, having transcended its roots as “the most explosive Islamic ‘group’ in the modern world” to evolve into “the most explosive Islamic movement the modern world has ever seen” in less than twelve months.

“Perhaps such a scenario is far-fetched but it’s the sum of all fears for Western intelligence agencies and it’s infinitely more possible today than it was just one year ago.

“And if not a nuke, what about a few thousand tonnes of ammonium nitrate explosive? That’s easy enough to make,” he writes.

The Next Disaster Won’t Be Averted (Rev 15:2)


A Nuclear Nightmare, Averted

A decades-old treaty offers clues to evaluating the potential deal with Iran.
Library of Congress / Reuters
GRAHAM ALLISON
MAY 22, 2015

This week, with little fanfare, one of the world’s key restraints on the spread of nuclear weapons came under scrutiny, as a month-long review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) concluded at the United Nations. Negotiated over the 1960s, the NPT was signed in 1968 and became international law in 1970. As specified by the treaty, members hold a conference every five years to assess the agreement. The exercise offers insight into our nuclear age, and perspective ahead of the coming debate about a deal to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, President John F. Kennedy determined that the nuclear order of the time posed unacceptable risks to mankind. “I see the possibility in the 1970s of the president of the United States having to face a world in which 15 or 20 or 25 nations may have these weapons, he warned the world. “I regard that as the greatest possible danger.”

Kennedy’s estimate reflected the conventional wisdom during that period. As nations acquired the advanced technological capability to build nuclear weapons, most analysts expected them to follow in the footsteps of the first five nuclear powers and build their own arsenals. Kennedy’s purpose in stating his fears so starkly was to call for imaginative, unprecedented initiatives to avoid that future.

In response to this call, the United States and Soviet Union established a hotline to allow direct communication during crises; signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which outlawed nuclear tests in the atmosphere; and began negotiations to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. That effort eventually produced the NPT. States that joined the treaty foreswore nuclear weapons in exchange for other states, including their adversaries or potential enemies, making an equivalent pledge. In addition, the five nuclear-weapons states of that time promised to provide other members with technological assistance including nuclear-generated electricity and additional benefits of peaceful nuclear energy, as well as to work to reduce and ultimately eliminate their own nuclear arsenals.

Ever since the NPT became international law, skeptics in the United States have opposed successive arms-control agreements with arguments that have become virtually canonical. This canon begins by rejecting the concept of striking deals with sworn enemies. If the real objective is to change an adversary’s regime, or even destroy it, these skeptics say, how can the U.S. accept their commitments in agreements?
Ronald Reagan, for instance, was challenged by fellow conservatives when he began negotiating deals like the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the nation he named the “evil empire.” As George Will wrote in 1987, “Reagan has accelerated the moral disarmament of the West—actual disarmament will follow.” William F. Buckley’s National Review editorial asked: “Why is [the INF Treaty] bad enough to be called a ‘suicide pact’?” Because “the Soviets do not intend it to contribute to a general lessening of their worldwide operations.” Reagan insisted that he was capable of brokering agreements to reduce the risks of accidents or unauthorized actions that risked nuclear war with one hand, while redoubling his efforts to undermine the Soviet regime with the other. And he did just that. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
One argument advanced by critics of the NPT noted that many nations who signed up for the treaty were known cheaters; expecting them to comply with their commitments was naive, and verifying whether they were actually doing so would be impossible. Moreover, it was delusional to presume that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the official watchdog for the NPT, would be able to identify violations in states that could hide nefarious activity in hundreds of thousands of miles of territory. The IAEA has undoubtedly found that assignment challenging, and it has failed in this regard on several occasions. On balance, however, its record compares favorably with that of national intelligence agencies whose budgets are hundreds of times larger.
Critics also argued in the case of the NPT, as well as subsequent arms-control treaties with the Soviet Union, that success in signing agreements would lead the U.S. government to imagine that the problem of nuclear proliferation had been solved and shift its attention elsewhere—that it would, in effect, make leaders less vigilant about such a high-priority threat. But four and a half decades on, the U.S. intelligence community is hugely more capable and more focused on the spread of nuclear weapons than it was when the NPT was born.
The results, reflected in the chart above, are hard to deny. As of today, 185 states have signed up to the NPT and voluntarily renounced nuclear weapons. That is, virtually every state other than the declared nuclear-weapons states and a few outliers: India, Israel, Pakistan, South Sudan, and depending on who you ask, North Korea (Iran is a signatory). Members of the treaty include many countries that set out on the road to nuclear weapons and had the technical capability to complete the journey, but reversed course: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Libya, Romania, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, and the former Yugoslavia. In contrast to the 15 or 25 nuclear-weapons states JFK envisaged, today just nine have nukes: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. One state, South Africa, built nuclear weapons in the 1980s but then eliminated them during the transition from apartheid.
The NPT, of course, has been only one pillar of the global nuclear order. Others include the American “nuclear umbrella” (pledges to defend allied, non-nuclear states), U.S. security guarantees to Germany, Japan, and NATO members, credible military threats like those posed to Iran if it should seek to build a bomb, and even wars. Ironically, the U.S.-led military response to Saddam Hussein’s attempt to annex Kuwait in 1991 uncovered his secret nuclear-weapons program and destroyed it.
Still, given JFK’s nightmare that could have been, it’s worth recognizing the forces that bent this arc of history. The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program represent a distinct case that must be examined on its own terms with careful attention to its specific facts. But the NPT’s record provides a backdrop against which to assess the latest round of canonical objections.

ISIS Will Launch Nuclear Bomb In US In 1 Year (Dan 8:5)

 
ISIS propaganda claims the group will have nuclear weapons within a year

MAY 23, 2015 1:56PM

HARRY TUCKER and NETWORK WRITERS news.com.au

THIS is the terrifying reality ISIS thinks it can achieve in a year — holding the world to ransom with nuclear weapons.

Reports out of an ISIS propaganda magazine claim that Islamic State are set to come into possession of their first nuclear bomb “within a year”.

Their plan is to either gain hold of an atomic device by purchasing it from weapons dealers with links to corrupt Pakistani officials.

The group admits however that they might face some challenges in obtaining such a weapon and would instead settle for a “few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive” instead.

The article says:

“Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table.

“The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilayah in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region.”

“It’s the sum of all fears for Western intelligence agencies and it’s infinitely more possible today than it was just one year ago.

“And if not a nuke, what about a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive? That’s easy enough to make.”

The piece is allegedly written by British hostage and journalist John Cantille and also claims that a future attack on the West would dwarf any of “the attacks of the past”.

The writer adds that, “They’ll be looking to do something big, something that would make any past operation look like a squirrel shoot, and the more groups that pledge allegiance the more possible it becomes to pull off something truly epic.

“Remember, all of this has happened in less than a year. How more dangerous will be the lines of communication and supply a year on from today?”

The new propaganda comes after two big victories for Islamic State in the last week, including seizing almost full control of the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra after government defence lines collapsed.

The fall of the town to the Islamic State group is a stunning defeat for President Bashar Assad’s forces, days after IS militants launched their offensive against Palmyra in central Syria.

It is also an enormous loss to the government, not only because of its cultural significance, but because it would open the way for extremists to advance to key government-held areas, including Homs and Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for human rights reported that government forces collapsed in the face of IS attacks and withdrew from the town late yesterday.

The ruins at Palmyra are one of the region’s most renowned historic sites, and there are fears the extremists would destroy them as they did major archaeological sites in Iraq.